School Unrest?

Why are student setting schools on Fire?

By Constance Ndeleko

On Monday morning 8th November 2021, two schools including Maranda High School and Mwala Girls High School went up in flames raising the number to over 35 countrywide.

A police report indicated that in Maranda, the fire destroyed a dormitory that housed 200 students while another dormitory fire destroyed property of unknown value at Mwala. No person was injured in the two incidents.

In a publication by Citizen Digital today, Kakamega Governor, Oparanya called for heavy jail terms extending to 60 years for students found guilty of arson attacks in schools. Sixteen students were arrested following the early morning incident.

Oparanya reiterates for proper discipline days after Kakamega High School was closed down on 6th November 2021 for students setting fire and burning down two dormitories. Sixteen students were arrested following the early morning incident.

“Tell them we have sent them to school to study not burning schools. I advise magistrates if you find cases of children burning schools, jail them for sixty years. So that they come out of jail when old. Because we need discipline in this country. You cannot have a country where people do whatever they want,” he said.

“The national government will not provide money to be used in repairing the buildings destroyed in the fires. Parents will be forced to provide the money needed for the repairs. Since the onset of the pandemic, people have gone through a lot of economic hardships,” said Oparanya.

Last week, Cabinet Secretary for Education, prof. Magoha also mentioned that parents will have to bear the burden of paying for the damages caused by their children.

Magoha has now threatened that students linked to fire incidents in schools will be blocked from joining public schools. Speaking during a tour of schools in Machakos County on Monday, November 8, the CS noted that the directive would help curb indiscipline cases in schools.

He further stated that the act of setting school premises on fire was primitive noting that schools would not be shut down due to increased indiscipline cases. “It looks mundane and juvenile to burn a building. It is stupid, it’s primitive and must stop. We are not closing any schools,” stated the CS. /

In October, Buruburu girls dormitory was set ablaze where by a number of girls were rushed to Metropolitan Hospital which neighbors the school. Some students who were inside, jumped from the dormitory when the fire started. The cause of fire was not established.

In 2016, there were several incidents of schools in Kenya burned down by students. At that time there was a massive crackdown on how examinations were being administered, and the government was cracking down on cheating. Although some officials said the schools’ unrest was also due to clannism and political influence, however, it was not very clear why students were on the rampage. /The East African/

Earlier this year, the government declared opening of schools after months of students being forced to stay at home because of the pandemic. Shortly after the resumptions, there were lamentations by students on how tight the curriculum was most especially with examination and their future at stake for missing out some learning opportunities.

Headteachers had earlier pointed accusing fingers at Magoha’s Ministry of Education over the spike in school unrest. Led by Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (KESSHA) Chairperson, Indimuli Kahi, the teachers maintained that the Ministry of Education failed in its oversight role which could have helped in averting the cases of unrest. Kahi noted that before the schools were given a nod to reopen, teachers had proposed a raft of measures but failed to factor in the half-term breaks which has contributed to the spike.

Students are expected to break for half-term on Friday, November 19 and resume studies on Tuesday, November 23. 

But again, should this call for such behaviors? Can’t we find an amicable solutions to teach our children how to respond to issues rather than bringing down buildings that have heavily costed tax payers?

However, the underlying issues remain unsolved and we should critically investigate on the cause to find the right ways of solving this before things get out of hand. We need to understand the overwhelming times we are in but we need students to also understand that there are better ways in solving issues than burning down schools.

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